EMP is the abbreviation to the newly opened Experience Music Project music museum in Seattle. It opened on July 24, 2000 with huge opening concerts including:
  • Snoop Dogg
  • Eminem
  • Beck
  • the Eurythmics
  • No Doubt
  • Matchbox 20
  • Metallica
  • Dr. Dre
  • any many, many more
    It was created by Paul Allen, and the architecture, inspired by a Jimmy Hendrix broken guitar, was done by Frank Geary; famous for the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, Spain. Includes gigantuous interactive exhibits and the world's largest karaoke.
  • Perhaps a more current, and first-hand writeup is in order.

    Being a charter member of the EMP I'm pretty well versed in its various intricacies.

    Although I lack one of those nifty maps they hand out upon entrance, I've been there enough that I can probably reconstruct most've it from memory.

    There are two entrances into the project, the main entrance is facing the Space Needle and the somewhat out of place amusement park which surrounds it. The entire surrounding area, for obvious reasons, is very touristy. Besides the EMP, 'Needle and amusement there is also generic community center, as well as the Pacific Science Center and Seattle Monorail. Anyway, back to the EMP.

    From the main entrance you, obviously, have to stand in a line to get tickets where there is always a moderately sized line. The fact that tickets are in the $20 range means that ol' Paul Allen must really be raking in the dough on this endeavour. After you get a ticket (or your membership pass, like me) you are handed a strange device, whose name eludes me.

    The device consists of some headphones, a pouch-shaped unit that rests on ones side, and what looks like a tricorder. The device is used in the museum sections of the EMP, if one zaps the tricorder end of the device at a piece of a display some recorded information about it is downloaded into the unit, then played through the headphones. If you wish, you may download a few of these recordings on the unit and then upload them onto www.emplive.com in the computer center there, for your own personal enjoyment at any time. Pretty nifty.

    From the entrance one enters Sky Church. Sky Church is, essentially, a big preformance hall. It has been specifically designed for near-perfect acoustics. It shows. Music is played constantly in there, and that music is played loud. The church also features a huge, IMAX-style screen that usually displays some trippy artwork and occasionally videos. Preformances at the EMP are usually done here.

    After one gets adjusted to the deafening sounds the next interesting feature of Sky Church is the lighting. Two media geeks, perched high on a balcony above control a complex system of lights and smoke, allowing them to create moving gears that will follow people around on the floor, among other things.

    Sky Church has some convenient benches where one can be amused by listening to the music, watching the trippy show, or observing people's reactions to the various lighting effects.

    After Sky Church one has a choice of places to go. There's the gift shop which also has a restaurant and lounge, there's the Artist's Journey ride and then there's the rest of the museum. Since I assume most people don't care about the gift shop, I'll continue on with the museum.

    After leaving Sky Church one enters a hallway. In the hallway there is a large (about 35-50 foot tall) monolith made of guitars (and a few other instruments) all strung together. All of these instruments are of some famous origin. One can walk from the guitar-monument to either the Hendrix museum, or, to a little corner dedicated to the architecture of the EMP itself. I have, in all my visits, never manged to get into the Hendrix exhibit. No matter when I am there, there is always a long line of people waiting to sneak a peek at the chamber of fabled Hendrix artifacts. From the outside, I have seen that there's some sort've documentary film being played in there.

    From this hallway one can also go upstairs to more of the museum. But before that, I should mention Artist's Journey.

    The Artist's Journey is probably the most entertaining part of the whole museum. It is a ride. As of my last visit they have been playing a ride featuring James Brown. The way it works is as follows. First, like so many things in life, you stand in line, waiting to get in. People move in about 35 person chunks. Once that's over you stand in a small chamber where all the walls have TV screens on them. The screens play a short video, which, in this case, features two teens who want to be funk masters, but, they don't got tha funk. The angel of funk offers to teach them, if they dare. At this point, you move on to the second chamber.

    This chamber is a spiraling, ascending pathway. In the center of the spiral is space for a large display of some kind. In this case it was a big, purple, stomping shoe, signed by a whole bunch of funk legends. Again, a video is played continuing the adventures of the teens. Besides the big shoe, this room also has the same complex lighting capabilities as Sky Church, so after the first ride one can atleast look at the pretty purple and white spirals moving around on the floor.

    Finally, after the video ends, the good part begins. The ride. In this case, the teens have been offered a "trip" into the world of Funk if they jump into a portal. As you enter the third chamber there's a series of seats which have shoulder braces in them, ala a roller-coaster. There's also a big screen and more complex lighting. You sit down, buckle-up, and hang on. As soon as everyone is seated the screen gets much bigger, and you become aware that the entire room is on hydraulic stilts. In this case, you fall into the portal through an entertaining wormhole-esque sequence which envolves lots of falling, bouncing and jostling. Eventually the movie continues, with James Brown dancing with his funky groove while the teens catch on to this whole Funk thing. There are a few more jolts, and one, much shorter wormhole sequence, and it's over.

    With that over, the rest of the museum may not seem quite as exciting. Oh well. Most of the second floor of the museum is ordinary museum, with the exception that, as noted above, one can use the little devices they hand out to get more in-depth descriptions. Most of the actual museum is dedicated to Rock and Roll. There's a section for Rock's influences (Blues, R&B, Funk, etc.), a section for Seattle Grunge, and the rest is just misc. Rock stuff.

    There are also a few labs up there. In one of these, one can, essentially, have some glorified karaoke fun. You and some friends can stand up on a stage (complete with an artificial audience) and play/sing your heart out to a few select tunes. Another contains some instruments in which people can get a few minutes to jam on. The idea around this is very Jazzy, you listen to what others are playing and try to improvise something out of it.

    There is also an auditorium near the gift shop, this plays, almost endlessly, videos of Jimi either in concert or documenteries about him. From my member's newsletter I know that there are occasionally lectures which take place there, and even a few preformances.

    The one last thing I'd like to note is that, despite the EMP's unusual look on the outside, the inside has been designed in such a way that most of this is unapparent.

    The rest of the museum is not worth the cost of lengthening this writeup any further.

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